Starting a new story is a lot like getting a new puppy.
Many times it starts at the end of another one’s life. You loved, nurtured and grew the last one into a respectable, often-admired pet—one that minded and even made you proud. You could show it off when other people acted the least bit interested. Make it ‘speak’ by reading aloud your mesmerizing prose. Have its plot ‘roll over’ with ingenious timing. It could even ‘beg’ and you’d stop whatever else you might be doing—folding laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning house (Ha!)—and give it your full attention.
So as the old one completes its life, you find yourself wondering what will next be worthy of your attention. Should you devote your time and talents to a tale that’s high strung and will demand a lot from you? Or choose a quiet one that seems docile and loving? Perhaps you’ve always been drawn to a devoted pure-bred genre—a golden retriever like women’s fiction or a true-blue hound like historic fiction.
And now you find yourself entertaining the notion of adopting a mutt! A mix of high energy adventure and exotic paranormal—something that might end up looking a lot like this:
But also one that might surprise you and turn out adorable and newsworthy and make you a trend-setter.
So, you dive in and commit yourself to this new adventure. You surround yourself with elements to keep this new puppy entertained—pictures of characters culled from magazines, descriptions of setting scribbled on post-its, bits of dialog you heard while shopping now on the back of your grocery list.
And yet sometimes it refuses to behave. Sometimes it keeps you awake at night with its incessant barking and whining. It won’t even let you shower in peace without begging for your attention. Other times it’s downright annoying as it chews away at your subconscious, working its sharp little puppy teeth into your brain when you’re trying to help a child with homework or listen to your mother on the phone.
Just when you begin to wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, a day will come when this new pet project you’ve had such high hopes for turns a corner and begins to behave. It comes when you call. Sits eagerly at your feet. Delights you with a cock of its head. Makes you cry or laugh when you least expect it.
Photo credits: Ugly dog by Ben Margot, on flickr.com; puppy images by Pamela and Mia Hammonds